N. Korea conducts submarine missile launch as tensions escalate along the world’s most heavily armed border

(NationalSecurity.news) North Korea conducted a submarine-based missile launch in recent days as the United States staged a show of force following a suspected hydrogen bomb test by Pyongyang.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the test took place two days after North Korea conducted a provocative underground nuclear test that analysts are still attempting to fully understand.

Pyongyang released a video (below) of what the government said was a successful submarine-launched ballistic missile test in December.

In a 54-minute video, the state-run Korean Central Television included a report claiming that the missile launch was observed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was shown standing on a warship as the missile exits the water and blasts off.

The WFB reported further:

Defense officials said the successful test followed an earlier test failure on Nov. 27 that nearly sank North Korea’s missile-firing submarine, known as the Gorae, or Whale. The November ejection test caused significant damage, and the submarine was observed returning to the port of Sinpo listing at a 45-degree angle.

The apparent successful launch, however, was also carried out near the port city of Sinpo, on North Korea’s eastern coastline.

You can see the launch itself in the video below, presented in typical North Korea state media propaganda mode, below:

 

 

The WFB reported that U.S. officials are taking the launch seriously, and that it has altered intelligence assessments of what is now viewed as a potential new strategic nuclear strike capability.

The newly developed sub-launched missile could be deployed by Pyongyang complete with a nuclear warhead within a year, officials told the Web site.

U.S. intelligence officials say the video shows what the Defense Department calls the KN-11 missile ejecting from underwater into the air, then igniting its rocket engine and flying into the sky.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a senior intelligence official who said that the North has not yet completed the development of a new sub-launched ballistic missile.

“The country seems to be in the stage of the ejection testing, but not in the completion stage,” the official told the news agency.

The video appeared timed to bolster the North’s strategic capability narrative, as it came just a few days after the latest controversial underground nuclear test. In response to the underground test, the Pentagon sent a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber, which was escorted by South Korean F-15s and a U.S. F-16 fighter jet as a signal to the North Koreans.

“This was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland,” said U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

Others aren’t sure that the launch was genuine. As reported by The Diplomat:

Dave Schmerler, a researcher with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, spotted that the footage showing the missile breaking through a layer of clouds is from footage of a June 2014 missile launch. Schmerler additionally geolocated the background of the SLBM test video, showing that it had taken place roughly near North Korea’s Sinpo shipyard.

Nevertheless, the North Koreans hailed the test as a breakthrough. WFB reported that U.S. intelligence officials estimate the small-yield device could be evidence that Pyongyang is developing a two-stage thermonuclear device.

The KN-11 is thought to be based on a Russian missile, the SS-N-6 SLBM, or submarine-launched ballistic missile. U.S. intelligence believes the Russians may have covertly supplied it to the North Koreans, who are attempting to reverse-engineer it.

See also:

Washington Free Beacon

The Diplomat

CNN

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